A sustainable and comprehensive resource for the Black community in Valparaiso.

The Freedom Recovery Fund (FRF) has been established to explicitly focus on the building of Black wealth and to closing the growing gap.

STRENGTHENING
THE BLACK COMMUNITY IN VALPARAISO

Project Neighbors was founded more than fifty years ago on the basic premise that Black home ownership is a critical building block to addressing all other disparities. In the early years, White families subsidized Black families in Valparaiso in both gaining and paying mortgages. Over the years, the organization has expanded its focus to build other initiatives (including childcare, educational and health care institutions) in addition to building affordable housing. But the gulf between Black and White home ownership has continued to grow and, as the wealth of homeowners is 80 times that of renters, so has the wealth gap.

This continued disparity caused Project Neighbors to re-commit to address racial equity issues and policies through deliberate activities and partnerships around housing, education, and justice systems in Valparaiso. The Freedom Recovery Fund (FRF) has been established to explicitly focus on the building of Black wealth and to closing the growing gap.

Our Goals

Led by Project Neighbor’s Black Board members and staff, the FRF is a sustainable and comprehensive resource for the Black community in Valparaiso. The FRF supports projects and activities that address the policies and practices that lead to systemic issues and racial inequity. FRF funding will be allocated as follows:

 

%

to long term capacity projects focused on the development of Black wealth

%

to short-term emergency relief, primarily through micro-loans and grants

%

to provide advocacy/legal assistance.

Individual Development Accounts

Home and business ownership, along with education, are critical pillars of maintaining a healthy community, and are key elements of building wealth. In Valparaiso, only about 17% of its Black population (of about 1500 people) are homeowners, and even fewer own their own businesses. Further, Black students, enrolled at the college or university level, overwhelmingly identify financial constraints as the number one non-academic reason for leaving before graduation. These realities lead to a dearth of economic prosperity and generational wealth acquisition in the Black community. The FRF has determined that a directed and intentional intervention is needed.

The FRF IDA initiative will, in its initial year, identify individuals in Valparaiso to support in the process of wealth acquisition and conservation.  The FRF will, for participants who meet the requirements, match up to $2000 saved per person during a year on a 4 to 1 basis. This opportunity will be focused on individuals who are:

 

future homeowners working toward down payments;

• current business and homeowners who need to rehab/expand; 

• future business owners in need of seed capital; or 

• individuals seeking financial support to further their education/training opportunities.

 

Participants will be selected through a thorough application process, and each will need to meet the savings requirements and to be guided by a financial coach.

All participants must be at least 18 years of age, have clear financial goals related to one of the categories described above, agree to complete the money management and asset-specific training, save a minimum per month, and share experiences with other participants. In the initial year, the IDA initiative will be limited to Black residents of Valparaiso, Indiana. 

Emergency Grants and Loans

Though building for the future is the primary focus of the FRF, ensuring that people make it to tomorrow requires dedicated resources. Many of the obstacles that Black people face are either a reduction in income (i.e., furloughs, layoffs, etc.) or unforeseen financial shortfalls (births, deaths, major maintenance, accident, sickness, etc.). Regardless of the personal needs, there is usually a contributory systemic issue, whether that be wage disparity, unfair lending practices, or other racist policies that inhibit wealth attainment for Black people. The FRF must address these needs, while also working on the systemic policies. The FRF will address these individual needs through either small grants or loans.

Advocacy Assistance

Many of the oppressive barriers that the Black community faces are directly or indirectly related to legal quandaries. The FRF is committed to assuring that Black people have access to legal assistance for help with wills and deed documentation, and more complex problems, such as moving violation citations and wrongful terminations. The FRF will partner with the Black community to assemble legal resources and make them available.

Improving The Lives Of The Black Community In Valparaiso!

Through the Freedom Recovery Fund, Project Neighbors aims to build and engage a network of community leaders who share the common goal of improving the quality of life of Black community members in Valparaiso through the power of collective giving, community engagement and grant making.

Frequently Asked Questions about The FRF

 

How often, can an individual apply for an IDA, emergency loan or grant or legal assistance and can that individual apply for more than one program?

It is understood that there is often need for short term emergent and/or legal help even when working toward longer term financial health through participation in the IDA. Thus, individuals can apply in multiple program areas over time if need can be demonstrated. The IDA is only available once, however, to allow for that resource to be distributed to a wider group.

Can other people in an individual’s household or family also apply for and IDA, legal assistance, or an emergency loan or grant, if that individual has already applied?

Yes, if need can be demonstrated for the emergency and advocacy funds and the requirements met for the IDA.

Is there a deadline to get applications in for the IDA?

Yes. For this group, applications will need to be in by Friday, September 23rd.

What is the commitment of the FRF to match money saved by participants in the IDA program?

The FRF will provide 4 dollars for every dollar saved by participants, up to a maximum of $2000 saved by participants. So every participant has the opportunity to receive up to $8000 if they save $2000 AND they complete the FRF financial training.

Is there a time limit in which to save the maximum of $2000?

Yes. The timeframe for each cohort of IDA participants will be one year.

Can an IDA participant take out their FRF match before the end of the year?

Yes.  After IDA participants complete the financial training, the FRF will deposit 4 dollars for each dollar that the participant has saved at the end of every three months (quarter). The participant can take out whatever has been matched or leave it. The participants will still have the full year to save the maximum $2000 and receive the maximum $8000 in FRF match, even if they have taken some out before they hit that goal or reach the end of the year.

Can the stated IDA goals include other things than the stated four areas (saving for home ownership, education, business start-up or home and business expansion/improvement)?

The purpose of the FRF IDAs is to help members of the Black community build wealth. Thus, these are the areas that should be the focus of the applications.

Is there a deadline to get applications in for emergency grants and loans?

No. It is understood that emergencies happen when least expected. However, there is a limited pot of money allocated for this purpose in 2022 and, when that fund is depleted, applications will be frozen until new funding is allocated in 2023.

What are examples of “emergencies” that can be funded by these loans and grants?

This fund is intended to be for true emergencies. Examples may include:

  • a furnace or water heater has gone out and there is no money to have it fixed;
  • a car has been severely damaged in an accident and there is no ability to get it repaired;
  • there is a short-term food crisis in the home;
  • limited rental assistance is needed to avoid eviction;
  • unforeseen life events that need immediate attention and or resources.
When should someone apply for a loan and when should someone apply for a grant?

If there is the possibility of repaying the funding into the FRF, individuals should apply for a loan. If that repayment is unlikely given current circumstances, apply for a grant. The more of the emergency fund that is reimbursed, the more people can be helped.

Contact us more for information about the Freedom Recovery Fund